Soldiers of the 11th Infantry Battalion and troopers of the Negros Occidental PNP Public Safety Company beefed up the local police of Isabela, after the recent ransacking of the house of a barangay captain in a hinterland barangay.
Col. Francisco Delfin, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, and Senior Supt. William Señoron, officer-in-charge of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, however, said there is nothing to be alarmed about, as the Philippine Army and National Police are on top of the situation.
Alleged New People's Army rebels ransacked the house of barangay chairman Aurelio Tolero in Brgy. Mansablay, Isabela, Thursday night, and took a .45 caliber pistol and a homemade shotgun.
Another group of armed men, who claimed to be NPA rebels and serving as a blocking force, also intercepted and disarmed Jail Officer 1 Christopher Venus of his 9mm service pistol, an Isabela police report showed.
Fortunately, Tolero was not at his residence, when it was raided by the alleged NPA rebels, although he admitted that his family members were traumatized by the incident.
Delfin said 11IB troopers are pursuing the armed group.
Initial reports said that about 60 alleged rebels participated in the ransacking incident, including those who had disarmed the BJMP personnel.
Delfin and Señoron, however, said they are still confirming if indeed, the armed group are NPA members. Both expressed doubts that the NPA could muster such number, without being detected, as Army soldiers are patrolling the hinterlands.
Señoron raised the possibility that somebody may have been creating a scenario, for personal interest but did not elaborate.
Sharing the police assessment, Delfin also said there could be an attempt to mislead authorities.
Isabela Mayor Enrique Montilla III issued an appeal for sobriety among Isabeleños, as he believes that the Army and police are on top of the situation.
Tolero said he believes the armed men were after him.
He also does not believe that the suspects are NPA rebels as he has not done any wrong to them.
Tolero said they are entertaining the possibility of seeking refuge at the town poblacion.
Tolero and San Agustin barangay chairman Agapito Euroba, who claimed that his house was also ransacked by alleged NPA rebels on Jan. 23, are supporters of Montilla.*GPB
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